December 7, 2008

Welcome to website and the internet astronomy store for Sunriver Nature Center & Observatory (SRNC&O).  In this blog, I hope to keep you up-to-date on events in the daytime and night sky as well as what is going on at the SRNC&O. This is where I will be posting some quiet specials not listed on the main pages of this website.  Keep checking back!

This is the the second edition of this blog.  Christmas season is in full swing at the Nature Center and all around the world.  I'm seeing signs of the Christmas Holiday (or the Winter Festival if you prefer) everywhere I look.  Today was the SRNC&O paid staff Christmas party. The Observatory volunteer party is December 28.  I get to go to THAT one. 

The Saturday after Thanksgiving, the Observatory was open.  With a skeleton staff, there were over 150 visitors.  I missed it and I'm sorry.  For so many years, the winter open times are clouded out, snowed or iced out, or just plain too cold.  In fact, in all the years I've been involved with SRNC&O, I've never been to a regularly scheduled winter program because of the weather.  The fact we had so many visitors is a real positive.  It proves we can draw the public even when it's cold.  Of course, a virtually moonless night and magnificent skies didn't hurt either.

I recently had a question about our pricing here on this website since so many of you are used to getting GREAT DEALS from SRNC&O.  The prices listed here are what are called Manufacturers' Advertised Prices (MAP).  They are the lowest prices we can list according to the agreements we have with manufacturers.  They are the lowest prices any dealer can advertise either online or in print.  However, a dealer can CHARGE whatever they wish.  Give us a call at 1-866-598-4406 for the best price on any item. 

We have several specials right now.  We have two demo Astro-Tech 80 mmm refractors and one demo Astro-Tech 102 on sale.  They are in virtually brand new condition!  All are apochromatic refractors and one even has a carbon fiber tube.  The AT80 ED, normally priced at $549 is now $499.00.  The AT80 LE is normally $749.00.  We have it priced at $649.00.  This is the one with the carbon fiber tube.  The AT102 EDF is normally $1195. It even has a FeatherTouch focuser! This price is a fantastic one.  Our demo price for this amazing instrument is $1095.  They are all a little too big to fit in a stocking considering they come with cases but won't they make your astronomer tickled to death!

Speaking of Astro-Tech, we have a complete set of Astro-Tech Paradigm eyepieces arriving shortly that we'll be using as demos to loan out at star parties and other events.  The Paradigms are in focal lengths of 5, 8 , 12, 15, 18 and 25mm.  According to what we have been told they are great eyepieces in telescopes slower than f/5.  In a scope faster than f/5, apparently, they start to break down.  We're looking forward to that demo kit...if these eyepieces are anything like the Astro-Tech Titans, they are going to be a winner -- especially priced at a reasonable $79.95 each!  Astro-Tech also recently introduced a line of 1.25 inch light pollution and line filters.  Again, the philosophy of Astro-Tech "astronomy equipment for everyone else" holds true here.  The O-III and UHC filters are priced at $69.95 and the others are priced substantially less than that.  More information about both these new lines from Astro-Tech can be found here on the website.

The website has been updated to include our line of Storm Cases -- one of the finest cases to hold delicate instruments on the planet.  We use several of these in the Observatory to store and transport telescopes.  If you don't know Hardigg Storm Cases...check them out here on the accessory page.  They are wonderful storage for your eyepieces, telescope or whatever...and guaranteed for life!

We are reaching the winter solstice.  In my other life, away from SRNC&O, I am a horse rancher.  That part of my world loathes the short hours of daylight.  Of course, as an amateur astronomer, I love the earlier dark skies even though the nights are cold. We've been having a tremendous string of gorgeous nights interspersed with the normal clouds we get during the winter months here in Central Oregon.  Still, I look forward to the time when I don't have to have my outdoor chores done before 5 in the afternoon.

I hope you all got to see the conjunction of Venus, Jupiter, and the Moon over the tail end of last month and the first of this month.  I've taken to calling those evenings (which were fantastic except for December 1) the nights of the Celestial Frown because that's what those three bodies celestial beacons gave me an impression of.  For those folks who lived below the equator, it was a Celestial Happy Face!!!

I want to make a habit of showcasing astrophotography by our members.  Last time, I showed a photo by David Haworth.  This time, I'm going to share a photo by our own Tracy Brown.  When you visit the Observatory or the Nature Center, you may have seen some of his prints for sale.  Below is Tracy's contribution to next year's Mt Bachelor Star Party.  This is the Summer Milky Way over the majestic Mt Bachelor.  We are using this as the official photo for Mt Bachelor Star Party 2009.  This print is for sale through the Astronomy Shop store.

Mt-Bachelor-Star-Party-TBBsmall.jpg  If you look closely, you can see the red lights of those attending MBSP.

Until next time,

Keep Looking Up!

Larry Cerullo

Previous Blogs:

Thanksgiving, November, 2008